No. 1 star, Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins:
Malkin had a tremendous first period, scoring two goals to give him five in the previous four periods of the series. Malkin converted on the power play to tie the game 1-1 at 6:50. He capped Pittsburgh's three-goal first with a great individual effort. After corralling the puck along the boards, he waltzed to the front of the net and simply overpowered Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward at 19:48. Malkin, with six straight multi-point games, added the lone assist on Ruslan Fedotenko's third-period goal that ended all suspense in Game 3, if not the series.
No. 2 star, Bill Guerin, Pittsburgh Penguins:
Guerin had the prettiest assist of the night on Sidney Crosby's go-ahead goal late in the opening period. Guerin employed a nimble stick to corral a pass from Chris Kunitz that was somewhat behind the veteran forward while streaking through the neutral zone on the left side. Guerin then executed a long backhand pass with precision to Crosby, who arrived at just the right moment to tap it past Ward on his backhand. Guerin added a garbage goal late to make it 6-2.
No. 3 star, Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins:
The league's leading scorer in the playoffs bagged his 14th goal at 19:17, the first of two scored in the final minute of the opening period to turn a 1-1 game into a two-goal edge Carolina could not overcome. In addition to supplying two points to the blowout win, Crosby was 12-9 on draws and had a takeaway and a blocked shot during 21:31 of ice time.
Major penalty: The Hurricanes broke down in the final minute of the first period, allowing two goals within 31 seconds that took all the noise and excitement out of the building. It essentially was the half minute that ended Carolina's season. Down 3-0, the 'Canes are cooked.
Minor penalty: Carolina defenseman Tim Gleason knows better than to try to push a lazy backhand across to his defense partner with Malkin bearing down in his own zone. But that's the veteran defenseman tried, and it ended up in the back of Carolina's net. And just like that, the Hurricanes' last lead in Game 3 evaporated.
Conn Smythe Watch: (The Top 10) 1. Evgeni Malkin, Penguins; 2. Johan Franzen, Red Wings; 3. Sidney Crosby, Penguins; 4. Henrik Zetterberg, Red Wings; 5. Chris Osgood, Red Wings; 6. Can Ward, Hurricanes; 7. Marc-Andre Fleury, Penguins; 8. Jonathan Toews, Blackhawks; 9. Eric Staal, Hurricanes; 10. Patrick Sharp, Blackhawks.